How does Browning convey the idea of urgency?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In my view, "Meeting at Night " does not actually convey urgency, at least not with the degree of effectiveness Browning may have intended. It is a very simple poem which, like many of his other works, is straightforward, uncomplicated, and almost naive, as it succinctly describes a reunion...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In my view, "Meeting at Night" does not actually convey urgency, at least not with the degree of effectiveness Browning may have intended. It is a very simple poem which, like many of his other works, is straightforward, uncomplicated, and almost naive, as it succinctly describes a reunion of lovers.

The "startled little waves" leaping in "fiery ringlets" do give an impression of agitation in the sea. But little else in the poem has the connotation of danger or even the anxiety of the man landing his boat on the "slushy sand," except, perhaps, that he must cross three fields to reach the farm and then strike a match outside the lover's window—which, of course, implies that he is meeting her in secret. His heart, and his lover's, we are told, are beating loudly, but we would expect this to be the case. In some ways, the simplicity of the poem is typical of not only Browning but the Victorian period as a whole. Although this is speculative on my part, I believe Browning, Tennyson, and others sensed that the Romantic poets—Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley and Keats—had created such incomparable works, which did convey passion and urgency to the highest degree, that they, the following generations, could not compete with them. Hence the almost deliberately drier, less elaborated, and in fact "less poetic"—in my opinion—work of the Victorians. "Meeting at Night" is a fine poem, but in comparison with the love poetry of Keats, for instance, it is subdued and plain. As stated, however, this is my personal view, and others may strongly disagree!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team